…serene and successful new year…

…Happy New Year. Or should that be Felix Annus Novus, MMXIV?…

And since the objective is to seek and ensure serenity, we dwell briefly on two quick news items (for incentive?) and move briskly and confidently to realise the promise that the New Year brings.  To do the Janus bit, we do a quick look back and then a positive look forward.

Looking back

A news item on what has been obvious to all, and for some time, and the clear winner by ‘a mile’,  Biggest Threat to World Peace: The United States. A chilling verdict. No other country was even close, as the chart shows.And that was with a potential conflagration averted in the Middle East, and averted thanks to the British Parliament and to Russia and to a surprisingly angry US populace.

The other news item. When the US decided to ‘save its pride’ of that ‘crossing a red line’ nonsense by seeking to attack Syria for its ‘use’ of chemical weapons against its citizens, a use for which no evidence had been provided, the NYT was then in full voice, a shrill cheer leader among the loyal MSM. It was sheer comic irony then that, only within the last few days, the NYT would finally admit to the falsity of the ‘evidence’ proffered, that the Syrian government had launched a chemical weapons attack against its citizens. We have a nice dissection of the well-concealed admission of error,  NYT Backs Off Its Syria-Sarin Analysis. Couple telling snippets,

The erosion of that “vector analysis” article has been underway for several months – through reporting at Web sites such as WhoGhouta and Consortiumnews.com – but few Americans knew about these challenges to the Official Story because the mainstream U.S. news media had essentially blacked them out.

When renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh composed a major article citing skepticism within the U.S. intelligence community regarding the Syrian government’s guilt, he had to go to the London Review of Books to get the story published. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Deceiving the US Public on Syria.”]

Even Ake Sellstrom, the head of the United Nations mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria, challenged the vector analysis during a Dec. 13 UN press conference, citing expert estimates of the missiles’ range at about two kilometers, but his remarks were almost entirely ignored.

Imagine then the scale of death and destruction in Syria had the British Parliament voted for yet another misadventure in docile subservience to the US. It would then take the diplomatic adroitness of Russia to guide a misguided US away from a foreign policy steeped in violence and destabilisation, especially against uncooperative Muslim countries. Had that folly been committed, what excuse would have the US or the NYT used to justify such an error? Another ex-post, ‘the need to remove another Hitler and restore democracy and freedom’? And the consolation for victims similar to those in Iraq and Libya?

Yes, the government and the corporate MSM can and do ‘mislead’ (lie), and with disastrous consequences for innocent people, not just in the victimised country. 2014, the year of an enlightened US foreign (and domestic) policy?

Looking forward

We should expect an activist Pontiff who remains unabashed in demanding social and economic justice, and who may well succeed in restraining capitulation to corporate greed and in encouraging more programmes for the benefit of a more just society.

We should expect to see the social programmes in most countries of the Latin America and the Caribbean to continue, though within the context of likely economic challenges. Thus, chavismo of Venezuela with its PetroCaribe and ALBA will, but with less funds and, thus, more modest goals.

We should expect that the blanket and unapologetic espionage against all countries and their citizens would continue to have significant economic costs for the US firms complicit in the deception, a reality that seems to still escape US officialdom. We should expect to see less non-beneficial intrusion in the economies of the non-Western world, especially those of the ‘backyard’ – but bad habits die hard and as such will demand dogged determination to ensure their demise.

Yet, as more citizens are better informed, they can collectively or individually exert more effective  pressure on their leaders and governments to generate fair outcomes to their respective societies.  Having a healthy scepticism toward the MSM, especially the US MSM, and delving into blogs and new media should yield rich dividends.

To facilitate the process, we dare suggest: General blogs such as common dreams, firedoglake, Juan Cole’s informed consent,truth_out,  and empty wheel would deserve at least that occasional glance. RT.com tends to also cover news avoided by the MSM.

On economic issues, noteworthy blogs include Dean Baker’s straightforward beat the press, in which he has to correct almost daily the same basic mistakes in economics that the MSM make; and he does so with clarity and some welcome irreverence. And, as he observes, context is always important in any analysis. In that category is Yves Smith’s naked capitalism, which is sometimes more technical. A favourite is conversable economist economics which covers a range of topics, especially in microeconomics. Voxeu tends to cover more topics and more countries and does so at a generally more technical level. For the quantitative types, Dave Giles’ blog, econometrics beat, is really neat.

Onward we head to that serene and successful year

And for that confident start, we return to an obvious international choice, Hilary and Gustavo and Mozart, with the second movement, Violin Concerto no. 3 No better way to the year? Now to maintain that momentum…